Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Taming the Beast!

Whenever we return home from a trip, there is the inevitable mountain of laundry to tackle.  And this current mountain of dirty clothes was especially challenging as it was from a weekend of being one with nature ... one with dirt, one with tree bark, one with campfire ash, one with s'mores.  I make a habit when traveling of packing a large plastic bag (a kitchen trash bag works well) for all the dirty clothes to go in.  This helps the kids from intermingling their clean clothes with their filthy clothes ... as if a quick look or smell wouldn't make that perfectly clear!  It was certainly helpful this weekend because it also helped to contain the smell of camp smoke from permeating the van and house.  Why is it that a smell so earthy like a campfire can smell so good when you're sitting their sipping your cocoa, but give it 24-hours and it is pure stench?  I invited the kids yesterday to smell what they smelled like before their showers and they each stuck their noses in the laundry basket ... but only for a moment!  Whew!

But even if we are not returning from a trip, just a regular week in the Kellum house accumulates a lot of dirty socks, shirts and pants!  I guess that comes with the territory of having a large family.  If you think about it (which I try not to do because it might depress me!) in one given day we will dirty 12 socks, 6 undies, 6 shorts or pants, 6 shirts and perhaps a leotard or two.  And that's if no one changes their clothes part way through the day!  Ta-dah!  One load of laundry!  In light of this I have a few tricks that make my weekly laundry labors a little less work.

For one thing, I do laundry several times a week.  There is NO WAY I would want to see what we could stockpile in an entire week.  (See the above list and multiply by seven!)  Instead, I am in the habit of doing three loads at the first of the week, typically Monday, a small load of odds and ends on Wednesday and then three loads again on Friday.  In this way, I usually am not doing laundry on the weekend and I can usually keep my big laundry days to just three loads:  whites/lights, colors and jeans/towels.  My "odds and ends" laundry day is when I toss in bathroom towels, kitchen items (we use cloth napkins) and any really stinky clothing items that have penetrated the hamper.  Another perk to doing laundry frequently is that I don't end up with an overpowering pile of socks to match (according to our previous equation = 84 singles) and seeing as they are all white (!!) this can be quite a time saver.

A second laundry tip I would share is recruiting any help you can get ... from within your house, that is.  We'd all love to have a laundress, but that probably isn't going to happen!  Brett is a great help around the house, especially with laundry.  In fact, he tackled much of this week's Mt. Everest of stinkiness and I enjoyed a laundry-free Monday!  But, I have also learned to get the kids to help, too.  On Monday and Friday mornings, if time allows, I send the kids upstairs to sort laundry.  It is an easy task for them and it is easy for me to re-sort a few items if Lydia is helping. :)  The kids are also solely responsible for putting away their own clothes after school.  I fold the laundry and make nice piles on my bed of all their items (piles of their pants, socks, shirts, etc.)  The kids then come in after school and put their piles away.  I will be honest with you that sometimes those nice, clean, fresh clothes get CRAMMED in their dresser drawers.  Part of me cares ... but the other part of me who isn't putting away piles of clothes just lets it go!  On days when the kids are home, I invite (require) them to join me in the folding of clothes.  It is a great teachable moment for them to learn how to fold shirts and pants and how to match socks.  And someday I figure they will be well-trained and ready to do it on their own!

Having little people means having big stains on some of our clothes.  I try to not let stained clothes sit too long.  I typically try to spray the offending spots with a pre-treatment spray (I like Oxi-Clean) and then launder it soon.  Another practice I have in getting really grimy clothes clean is letting things soak.  Our washing machine has a setting that fills the tank, agitates and then lets it sit.  You can do this on your own by setting yourself a timer and lifting the lid after the clothes have agitated a bit and then let it run the cycle as usual.  By using a pre-treatment spray as well, I almost never have stains that persist.  I check the clothes before I dry (the heat will set the stain) and if the stain is still there, I try washing them again the same way as before.  If that doesn't work, that outfit gets sent to the rags ... or they can wear it again the next time we plan on getting filthy.

Here are a few snapshots from our post-camping laundry yesterday:
Proof we enjoyed camping ... and we wanted to take a little bit home with us!
In this picture you can see that we apparently didn't have napkins on our trip :)  I especially like how dirty Lydia's bottom was ... she had no problem just plopping down anywhere!  Norah also had some good brown spots on her back ... I'm not sure how that happened.  I wasn't sure how well these would come out as they had sat for about 12-hours letting those stains really take hold.  Now for the results:

Not too shabby!  Norah's shirt shows almost no evidence of dirt - definitely nothing that will stop her from wearing it again.  As for Lydia's onesie, there is still some residual stain, but it has certainly be saved from the rag bin.

Now you might ask, "Do you have any tips on ironing?" to which I would reply with this little story:  Aaron (age 6) walks into the living room to find me with a large contraption, a pile of fabric and a little gizmo that's hissing and steaming.  He asks in a bewildered voice, "What are you doing?!" To which I reply nonchalantly, "Oh, I'm just ironing these curtains."  Aaron responds, "Is that a new thingy?"  "No... " I say, "Mommy just doesn't use it much."  And hasn't used it much since!  Be assured, however, that we don't all walk around in rumpled clothes - I am very careful to check labels when shopping and if something requires ironing, back on the rack it goes!  I have also found that I can frequently steam rumpleness out of clothes by tossing them in the drier with a damp towel.  Also, if I catch clothes fresh out of the drier I can shake them out and hang them right away, oftentimes avoiding the need to iron.

I hope these few little laundry tidbits will help you out.  Or at least remind you that laundry is here to stay but with just a few tricks up your sleeve, it doesn't have to ruin your day.  I would love to hear and share any of your laundry-tips.  Leave me a comment and I'll post any ideas you have for the rest of us.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Great Outdoors!

We had a wonderful family-time away camping this weekend.  We went up to Highline State Park (a mere 26 minutes away ... according to Norah) ~ and we would highly recommend this destination for families with young children.  The area is grassy (good for little people), there is a little playground (at least enough to climb on and slide down), there is a swim beach (and apart from the razor-snaggle rocks, it was a hit) and lots of room to run and play!

In an attempt to share our weekend's activities (without boring you to smithereens!) ... I will share with you some of our DO's and DON'T's of the weekend.  (These suggestions are in no particular order, of importance or in sequence of events ... just as they come to mind.)

Saturday morning ... notice the warm clothes :)
DO pack plenty of clothes taking into account the varying temperatures you might encounter.  We were delighted to find that the weather was cool and yet no one froze at night.  After a couple really warm weeks here in the Grand Valley, we truly enjoyed having a few goosebumps at night.

DON'T get exasperated when your kids refuse to put on the warm pj's and socks you encouraged them to pack.  Even though you have about 30 years of experience in camping and you are "Mom" ... don't add to the night-time, super-tired crankiness.  Encourage them to stuff the warmer clothes in their pillowcases and then try not to say a word when they come out in the morning all bundled up.

DO make some tentative plans for the day ... there is nothing worse than your children moaning about, "there's nothing to do".  However, this weekend Brett and I remembered that we spent most of our camping trips pre-kid doing exactly that - nothing.  Sweet, sweet nothing.

Tree-climber Aaron, half-way up the tree.
DON'T intend to keep any of those said plans, but instead enjoy some time flying by the seat of your pants!  We had a few things mentally planned but really let the kids and their care-free, child-like whimsy set the pace.  For example, we headed out on Saturday afternoon for a little nature walk.  We made it to the swim beach ... and not a step further.  Brett and I couldn't argue seeing as we really didn't want to walk through the dusty hot brush looking for bugs when we could be in the cool shade and splashing with the kids in the lake.  And the extra plus for this change of plans was that everyone was doing what they wanted ... instead of us telling them they were doing something that they should like.  It was a win-win decision!  We also discovered that all we really need when camping is a good tree.  The three big kids spent most of their time climbing, jumping, spying and coaching each other as they climbed and climbed and climbed.  And I didn't even freak out when I found Aaron 20-feet up in the tree ... I just smiled and took his picture. Cheese! :)

Aaron's reading "Calvin & Hobbes"
and Norah's doing school work, big surprise!
DO try to have some routine and structure to your trip ... especially if you have little people who get bent out of whack if you stir things up too much.  We still had a quiet time in the afternoon on Saturday.  Two-thirds of us napped while the other third (i.e. Aaron & Norah) busied themselves quietly.

DON'T watch the clock too closely.  We found that we still kept our basic schedule ... give or take 30 minutes.  The bonus of having lots of activities going on and kids constantly moving is an early bed-time. Our kids were wiped out on Saturday evening and we had very little trouble getting everyone settled down ... and it didn't take long for us adults either!

DO check the weather before you leave.  It would be a memorable weekend (for all the wrong reasons) if you ended up in a down-pour all crammed in a 4x4 foot tent .... for the weekend.

Hanging out in the "Family Room" ... listening to the rain.
DON'T change all your plans in the face of a few sprinkles.  We knew going into the trip that Saturday's forecast called for rain in the afternoon.  We figured that was at about nap time and we would all be down for a bit anyway and we could lay low until the clouds passed.  The only glitch to that fail-proof plan :) was that the rain came in the morning - while we were at the park.  We saw the clouds moving our direction and when we started feeling the sprinkles we headed back to camp.  It was still just misting when we got there, so we decided to set up our other smaller tent to act as "the family room".  Aaron & Norah actually worked side-by-side to get that one up with just a little help from Dad.  Then we loaded the tent with our activity books, blankets and some snacks and water.  It was a fun time to hang-out, listen to the rain pitter-patter on the tent, read, munch and we even wrote a letter and made pictures for our Compassion child - some real togetherness time!  I wouldn't want to spend the whole weekend that close, but it was a highlight to the weekend.

DO take the time to study nature.  For our "city" kids, we don't often stop and explore even our own backyard.  But ... when everywhere you look you see nature (actual quote from Aaron, "There is a lot of nature here.") it's almost impossible to not be amazed by what you see.  We took a number of little walks (many on our way to the potty) and the kids would get so excited when we would see a new bug.  We borrowed a nature pack from the Visitor Center (something else we would recommend doing) and included in the bag was a journal to jot down notes, some nature books on bugs, birds and flowers and two little, clear bug-boxes to catch and examine the creepy, crawly creatures.  Many of the bugs we were unable to catch (those dragonflies are speedy!) but that didn't stop us from crouching down and inspecting them.  We found grasshoppers, a praying mantis (trapped in the pop machine ... oops), dragonflies, moths, butterflies and rescued a plump caterpillar from the middle of the road.  We also made a little friend in Timmy the Toad who liked to hide along the edge of our tent.  Liddy followed him around and around saying, "mah".

Looking for Timmy ... hope we didn't squish him!
DON'T think too much about how much nature is really out there. :)  The kids also found two snakes ... one a little too close to our site.  As I lay in my bag last night I was hard-pressed not to think about that little slithery fellow ... s-ing around looking for somewhere warm to spend the night ... no room here, thanks!  We also were surrounded by a chorus of noises - some identifiable ... some not so much.  We heard frogs, owls, mourning doves and plenty of crickets.  Speaking of crickets ... they have moved right up my list of creepy little bugs - right to the top.  Once when looking for my sweatshirt, four of the little buggers came scurrying out ... yuck.  Liddy, however, was not bothered by them and spent a good amount of time near our tent pointing out all the black little jumping pests saying (you guessed it), 

DO pack some yummy food to eat while camping.  There is something wonderful about eating food outside that you cooked outside.  On Saturday we enjoyed cinnamon rolls warmed up over the fire with hot cocoa, PBJ sandwiches at lunch and hot dogs roasted over the campfire for dinner.  We followed that up with s'mores and roasted marshmallows ... sweet sugary goodness!  Sunday morning I made pancakes and we topped them with sliced peaches and syrup ... and hot cocoa in case breakfast wasn't sweet enough!

Norah savoring every gooey, sticky, sugary bite.
DON'T get bent out of shape if your kids snack all weekend and pig-out on the sweet goodies.  Camping is known for special treats and no serious health issues will result from over-dosing on junk.  At least, that's what I keep telling myself! :)  Lydia subsisted on fruit and milk this weekend with a hot-dog thrown in for some protein.  She also sucked on her s'more leaving two graham crackers stuck together by a trace of marshmallow creme ... no chocolate to be found.  I think Aaron was close to a sugar coma and we had to cut him off.  Norah had two s'mores and then started singing, dancing and speaking in some gibberish language ... she's just a little sensitive to sugar.  Ashley, on the other hand, didn't care for eating the marshmallows but she sure like roasting them.  (I think that's where Aaron was getting all his.)  While we may not have eaten from every group this weekend ... we made some good memories!  And we have some fun pictures, too!

DO enjoy your trip to the fullest and make plans to do it again soon.

Sweet Liddy on the way home ... zonked out!
DON'T do it again too soon!  Even though we really enjoyed our trip, we are really glad to be home ... and clean ... and within a few feet of a potty.  We were out of our campsite at about 10:30 this morning and part of me thought, "I wish we could stay longer.  The kids have been so great."  But, we also are familiar with the limits each our kids (and us) have and it was a good thing we headed home when we did.  Because ... little did we know that the toughest part was still to come.  UNpacking!  We had very sad crying kids, who previously had been running and climbing, and who now were unable to carry pillows upstairs.  Gratefully they were revitalized by pizza, showers and resting-times (same as Mom & Dad) and now they are scheming our next big trip!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Food For Thought

Welcome to the weekend edition of Snapshots in which I will share a bit about my other love ... good food ! :)  We are off camping this weekend and while the menu isn't terribly fancy - as anyone knows, food eaten outside and cooked over a fire is almost always guaranteed to be delicious.  So I will have my once-a-year hot-dog roasted over a campfire and a couple gooey s'mores ... and enjoy every bite!

Here at home, we still turn out some yummy meals albeit usually not over an open blaze.  We have been enjoying lots of fresh foods this summer as a result of the wonderful garden Brett built.  We are truly enjoying the fruits of the season and just have to share a few snapshots of our own bounty:

Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Eggplants, Zucchinis ... oh, my!!

The Mortgage Lifter Tomato 
The story goes that a farmer back during the depression cross-cultivated the biggest tomato plants in order to grow these big guys.  He was able to sell the tomatoes for a dollar a piece ... and paid off his mortgage. :)

They were worth every penny!  Yum!
I wanted to share with you a recipe that we tried last weekend ... which was a huge success!  Hopefully it will be a hit in your home, too.

Grilled Taco Pizzas
(modified from the FoodNetwork Magazine, September 2010)

1 lb ground beef, cooked
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 avocado
1 tomato
2-3 green onions
1 lime
Taco seasoning packet
Bread dough (I made my own, but you can use a 16-oz tube of pizza dough from the grocery)
Salsa, sour cream and fresh cilantro as toppings

Cook up the ground beef and season to taste.  (I like fresh minced garlic, kosher salt, ground red pepper and cumin.)  Set aside, but keep warm.  Cut up the avocado, tomato and green onions and toss together.  Add the juice of 1/2 of the lime (cut the other half up for garnish) and add a little salt and pepper.  Set this aside and let the juices mingle.  Heat up your griddle on the stove on medium/high (I have a griddle with raised ridges that gave the crust grill lines ... but you can use just a regular griddle.)  Divide up the bread dough into the number of balls you need for individual pizzas.  Roll out the first ball into a thin circle on a flour dusted counter.  Brush the side facing you with a little olive oil and then dust it with the taco seasoning.  When the griddle is hot, place it face down on the pan and repeat with the oil and seasoning on the other side.  Don't walk away because they cook fast.  When the bread puffs up a bit, use tongs to turn it over and cook the other side.  Repeat with all the dough.  I layered the crusts on a cookie sheet and covered them with a towel and put them in the oven on low to keep them warm.  When everything is ready, put one crust back on the griddle and top with meat and cheese.  Let it melt and then move it to a plate.  Use a pizza cutter to slice it into quarters and then top it with the avocado mixture, a dab of sour cream, a bit of salsa and then a few leaves of cilantro.  Ole!

Grilling the crust ... it smelled so good!
Norah going back for seconds!

Now those of you who know us are familiar with our Saturday night pizza tradition.  This in no way will become a substitute for Brett's delicious, home-made pizza ... but it was a treat to have a little something different!

Friday, August 27, 2010


When was the last time you had one of those conversations where you asked, "How are you?" expecting the predictable, "Fine." and got instead, "Oof!" followed by a litany of grumbles?  Well, that was Brett's experience just a few hours ago. :)  Poor guy!  He never saw it coming!  Ask a simple question and get a whole lot more than you bargained for!

Here's another question for you.  Have you ever had a morning when you were rested, ready to take on the world, had enjoyed some refreshing time for yourself, made a commitment for today to be good ... and then had all those warm hopeful feelings come to a screeching halt once you actually had to interact with someone! :)

Well ... that gives you a little insight into my day so far!!  By 7:45 am my son had already "earned" an afternoon hanging out with me as a result of being a grump.  (We have a rule that if you have trouble being nice to your family, you get to practice at home ... and friends have to wait until you have remembered to love and respect those nearest to you.)  Ashley had decided to wear pin-striped pants with her flowered shirt ... and in her biggest 4-year old voice declared, "I like it!"  End of discussion.  Norah was busy flittering from here to here leaving a trail of lunch bags and shoes in her wake as she tried to get ready.  And finally, Lydia screamed.  A lot.  Oof.

We managed to get out the door on time and 75% of us had smiles on our faces ... and Lydia had taken a break from screaming.  We enjoyed our walk to school and back, I got a shower (yipee!) and our morning looked to be taking a turn for the better.  Unfortunately, Lydia had other ideas.  And, you guessed it, they involved screaming.  Oof.

I do feel for the little tyke.  It can't be easy being the baby and learning how life works.  She has a lot to say and quite a limited vocabulary.  Her most popular word/sound is "Mah" which at any given moment means any one of the following:  Mommy, Milk, I want it, Give it to me, Help, My turn, Yes, Mine, I'm tired, and I'm the boss.  I'm sure it can mean other things, too, but I think you get the idea. :)  You would think that being her mother would allow me the ability to translate her "Mah's", but unfortunately even knowing the context of her "Mah's" still makes it tricky to get it right ... hence the screaming.  On top of that we have the wonderful fact that she is testing every boundary we have, has a couple bad-habits we'd like to nip, is as stubborn as a mule and seems to be taking her own sweet time in jumping on the Kellum House Rules-bandwagon!  Oof.  It's a good thing she's so cute!

So you put all that together and you end up with one tired big-sissy (but a wise sissy as she spent much of her morning enjoying the quietness of her bedroom), a worn-out mommy ready to bang her head against the wall and Lydia still screaming-strong.  By the time we got to lunch (and Brett's phone call) my ears were shot as well as my nerves.  Hence the blah-grumble-grrrr-humph that my poor husband received.  He was his usual encouraging self (Thanks, Brett) and I hung-up with at least enough fuel to get to nap-time. :)

Lydia, always full of surprises, took this time to share with me a little bit of her sweetness ... just what I needed.  As we were trying to wrap up lunch without too much craziness she shared this little gift:

Thanks, Liddy!  You are sweet ... and as you find more and more words I know that we will grow out of the screaming and into the chatting.  I'm looking forward to it!


I hope I didn't depress you too much with today's post.  Just making sure you all know that regardless of how "together" I appear in print ... sometimes life is just a bit of a roller-coaster.  And honesty is always the best policy.  :)

And just so you know, the day did improve:  I got a call from a long-distance friend (Thanks, Kim!); Brett came home; I enjoyed time with my sous-chef, Aaron; and Brett is making me a little ice-cream sundae right now.  :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wacky Wednesday!

To sort of quote Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead, "What a long strange morning it's been!"  And the day promises to continue on in that wacky, wild way that we do things here.  For one thing, it's an early release day which means the older kids (plus a neighbor friend) get out of school at 1:50 ... right during nap time.  Not terribly convenient for this family with babies who nap, but we will tweak today (as we moms are famous for doing) and hopefully no one will fall asleep in the stroller on the way back down the hill toward home.  Once we get home, hopefully with my fingers crossed, we will end up with an okay quiet time in which Liddy & Ashley will sleep and the bigger kids won't spend the entire afternoon telling me they are bored. :)

But as I said above, the morning was interesting, too.  We had some real excitement here on Greenbriar Court ... as you will see.  First, we vacuumed.  And when I say "we" I mean all three of us; me on the real vacuum, Ashley on the dust-buster and Lydia with her purple vacuum that also talks and tells you how dirty your floors are.  There was quite a bit of vacuum waltzing going on (and if you say it in your German accent you sound cooler, "vacuum valtzing").  Fortunately we only got tangled up in the cord that one time.

Next, we loaded the dishwasher ... did I say it was enthralling around here or what?!?  This was exciting because I had to work with great speed to out-sort Lydia as she tried to unload the dishwasher faster than I could load.  I'm proud to say that I won.

The true excitement came when a large delivery truck pulled up across the cul-de-sac to unload a new refrigerator.  This event caused us to drop everything and park ourselves on the front step so we wouldn't miss anything.  We watched as the delivery men removed the front door from the hinges, loaded the old fridge on the appliance mover and replaced it with a shiny new silver refrigerator.  Wow!

Just before lunch, we played a few riveting games at the table, which as you know is a bit of a challenge with a non-game-player involved.  In this case, we had two jobs:  play the games and protect all the game parts from Lydia's grabbing, crazy hands.  One moment it's your turn and then the next all your cards are missing and your marker has drool on it.  That definitely kept us busy and was by far the most exhausting part of the morning.

Now to the untrained, non-Mommy eye, this might all appear quite boring; but I think that we learned quite a bit and even enjoyed ourselves a little.

A few snapshots of the morning that have some sort of significance:

  • As long as the kids are busy (even if it's with a pretend vacuum) they are happy,
  • Someday my kids will vacuum for me and they will know how to do it well because they were watching well ... as they clung to my right leg,
  • Dishwashers are wonderful machines:  even though it took a little longer to load than if I was doing it alone it is still faster than doing them by hand with little hands helping,
  • While watching the refrigerator delivery we learned how to remove a door from its hinges, that fridges are heavy and require large "strollers" to move them, that spiders make spiderwebs and that we are glad God made us people and not spiders who eat bugs ... and that Mommy needs to sweep the front steps :),
  • Lydia is really good at some parts of games, like dropping balls through holes and gathering cards; and not so good at other parts, like waiting her turn, not screaming when it's not her turn and not stealing all Mommy's cards when she goes potty, and
  • Ashley is a patient and sweet big-sister who puts up with a lot (i.e. hair pulling, toy grabbing and a task-oriented Mommy) and is a wonderful role-model to her baby sis about how to clean-up, play well and be a helper.
So as you can see, even on a Wacky Wednesday, we can learn a lot and we even found a few sweet snapshots of life here with little people ... some which are really quite precious. :)   And I'm so glad I'm home to see them!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Fine-Toothed Comb

While combing sand out of my toddler's hair this morning ... Wellllll, perhaps I'll back up a bit. :)

To begin, I spent a lovely morning with other mommies celebrating our kiddos being back-to-school.  We sat outside, enjoyed some delicious refreshments, listened to the little kids playing happily (most of the time) and enjoyed some delightful, adult conversation.  From the deck I could see my two girls playing and I was happy to see them getting along with the other kids well.  It was really a wonderful morning ... but eventually duty called and it was time to gather our parts and head home.  Upon collecting the girls I discovered that Lydia was covered, quite literally, from head to toe in sand.  I knew she was playing in the sand box, but I hadn't realized she was playing IN the sand box!

You might ask, "What would you have done if you had known that she was enjoying the sand box so very, very much?"  To which I would point back to the lovely morning I was having and the fact that my girls were playing so happily ... albeit sandily.  I guess as long as the girls were still safe, I would still let them play in the sand box ... but perhaps I would have made her wear a swim cap! :)

And so, back to the combing of the sand... 

Upon returning home, I decided a bath was in order.  Unfortunately, it is seemingly impossible to get sand out of hair.  (Perhaps you beach friends could give us land-lubbers some helpful tips!)  I washed and rinsed and washed and rinsed and I could still feel little gritty bits in her hair.  Some did rinse out as Ashley was quick to point out that the bottom of the tub was crunchy.  But, eventually I gave up and decided to try combing it out ... hence our blog title of the day.  Lydia sat so nicely as I combed with my fine-toothed comb ... and combed and combed and combed.

And as I was combing I thought about the phrase, "a fine-toothed comb" and thought, "who came up with that?"  And that little question led me to quite a rabbit-trail of thoughts:  What about all those other silly things we say?

  • Run the gauntlet,
  • A piece of cake,
  • Apple of my eye,
  • Beat around the bush,
  • Doozy,
  • Go out on a limb,
  • Fuddy-Duddy,
  • High on the hog,
  • Mumbo-Jumbo,
  • Rabbit-trail... You get the idea...
Now, think about this:  all these words came from somewhere.  Someone said it first and then other people started saying it and pretty soon that strange word or phrase became an idiom and was adopted into our vocabulary.  So my challenge to you is:  what word or phrase can you share that could someday become a regular part of our conversation?  You could make a real contribution!  Or at the very least, entertain us. :)

To get you started, I'll share a couple that I came up with:

"To share a kidney" ~ we use this in reference to our son and his buddy and their in-ability to be separated from one another for longer that 12 hours.

"To be booped" ~ this originated with the kids and the many times they set-up booby-traps in an attempt to scare us.  Synonymous with being sorta scared ... mainly not.

So ... send me your -Isms with a brief definition and I'll post my favorites.
We'll all broaden our vocabulary!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lunches Made Easy

While I was in the kitchen tonight putting together the kids' lunches for tomorrow (and at the same time enjoying a little time with Sara Groves in the quietness of "after-bedtime-bliss"), I thought I would share a little tool I put together last year to help make the endless lunch-making a tad bit easier.  Essentially it is a check list the kids do at the first of the week in which they choose what the want in their lunch bags each day.  They choose a main, two side dishes and a drink from the list.  I can shop at the first of the week according to what they have chosen and then each night I just fill their bags with what they have requested.  It works like a charm!  I don't have to get creative (especially at night when I don't feel like it) and they kids can't complain because it's what they marked!  I have attached our own list as an example, but you should cater it to your kids and what they like.  Hope it makes maybe just one aspect of getting the kids to school easier!

P.S.  Aaron is having a PB & Raisin Roll-Up, Strawberries and Cottage Cheese with Juice.  
Norah is having a Snacky Plate, Cottage Cheese, Crackers, Strawberries and water.  Yum!

Happy New Year!

Yes, I know it's August 23rd ... but today was the first day of school for Aaron and Norah and for me that's a start of a whole new year!  I love shopping for new school supplies (and then organizing them and labeling them) ... I always have - just ask my mom!  I love new clothes for the first day.  My Nana made some of our "First Day of School" clothes and I'm having a memory from when I was a kid... my sissy and I in our matching jumpers (she's in blue and I'm in maroon) and our bags - she had Miss Piggy and I had Kermit.

Just a side note that I just spent 10 minutes trying to locate said picture in my photo album to make sure I had my facts right and I was unsuccessful ... I found lots of other hilarious/frightening/curious photos that I might share later ... but no Kermit bag.  Maybe Mom could get right on that! :)

Anyway... this time of year is full of that wonderful sense of newness.  There is wonderful excitement in the unknown of a fresh school year.  Norah was over-heard saying numerous times today, "I'm so nervous!"  But when I asked her is she was scared, she replied, "No, just excited-nervous!"  I think she could be "excited-nervous" because she new that today is a good day, full of good unknowns and promises of good things to come.

I am also excited-nervous about this new school year because it blows a breath of fresh good air into our family life.  Yes, we will be looking at some crazy schedules between gymnastics and baseball.  Yes, the kids will be zapped when they get home from school for the next several weeks ... absolutely worn-out by their full-steam-ahead school routine.  Yes, I will miss having my big-babies gone all day ~ especially during lunch/check-in time.  But ... we need to shake things up or we are destined to get in a rut.  And that's not good.  I am looking forward to time with my little-babies and being able to invest a bit more of me into them.  I am looking forward to new relationships through my kids' new class-mates and their parents and teachers.  I am looking forward to seeing Aaron and Norah's horizons broadened academically (and mine in the process). I am looking forward to more of a me-routine, too ... making my morning walks more consistent, taking advantage of nap-times to write and read, devoting more time to my friendships and learning some new things, too.   I am looking forward to seeing how much we all grow this year.  

So as you can see, it is "Happy New Year!"  It's like a mid-year refresher course.  A second chance to spruce up your day-to-day.  A fresh start to do something you have only talked about.  And in some cases, a do-over ... and we could all use a couple of those.  In all these things we know it is good because God is good and He's in all these things!

I have included a mini-devotional (and I mean MINI) at the bottom of this blog.  And coincidentally ... it's about a promise of newness ... a promise of good.  Funny how God does that!

I would be re-miss if I didn't include some "First Day of School" snapshots ... are they so cute?!?

The Kellum 4 ~ looking so sharp!

Aaron and Norah ... and Big Bertha our pumpkin

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Like I Was Saying

This is a little taste of the silliness that you might enjoy here at Snapshots!

We are wrapping up the summer and trying to squeeze every last bit of foot-loose & fancy-free-ness out of it.  This past Wednesday we celebrated our first annual Park-A-Palooza. On the night before (I guess that would be Palooza-Eve) I packed a picnic lunch, water bottles, sunscreen, hats, scooters, a variety of sports equipment, bubbles, chalk and a batch mysterious clues.  When the kids got up on Wednesday, we had breakfast as usual ... but when they asked to be excused I asked them to please do their regular morning routine and then get their shoes on and go potty.  Oh my!  Just a burst of excitement!  The next few minutes were buzzing as they ran from room to room speculating what the morning might hold.  Within a few minutes we were ready to go (it's amazing how quick they are to obey when fun is on the line!) and we headed to the van.  As you will see from the scrapbook (courtesy of SmileBox) we had a great morning ... and consequently some really great naps!

My very favorite pictures of the kids are Liddy in the swing, Ashley working her way across the monkey bars (her first time EVER!), Norah stuck in her swing and Aaron laughing uproariously with Caleb as he holds onto his catch.  True snapshots of pure joy!


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Saturday, August 21, 2010

What's this all about?

Well, it's probably about time that I jumped on the blogger-bandwagon!  

This is my high-tech attempt at combining my love of writing with my desire to chronicle life here in the Kellum house and making it accessible to anyone who might be interested.  I'm not entirely sure what this will develop into, but I know for one thing ... it ought to be entertaining!    When you put together four kids, a dog, school, gymnastics, baseball, church, marriage, parenting and day-to-day life you're guaranteed quite a cocktail of craziness!  And yet ... somewhere in the midst of all this busy-ness is the sacredness of life.  There is meaning in diaper-changing and vacuuming.  There is significance in grocery-shopping and schlepping kids from here to there.  There is purpose in dinner around the kitchen table and hammering out home-work.  How?  Because God is in the midst of this ... even this hum-drum-ness of life.  

So ... that's the plan :)  Find something special in the repetition.  Find meaning in the blah.  Find and celebrate the sacredness of life's moments ... and share those Snapshots with you.

Check back here for the usual updates on the Kellum Kids including pictures capturing their silliness and their successes.  It's inevitable that those four monkeys will work their way into this chronicle.  But wait!  There's more ... When you visit again, you might find some helpful hints, some entertaining vignettes of life apart from the kids, the inside scoop on any number of adventures and hopefully a few reminders that life is full of lots of little, BIG moments!

I'll leave you with some insight into my inspiration.  If you know me, you know that I love music ... especially when I'm in the kitchen.  The Chieftains make me want to learn to clog.  Jack Johnson helps me relax.  And Sara Groves sings what's in my heart and mind.  So ... here's a snippet of one of her songs that has opened my eyes.  It's from "Just Showed Up For My Own Life".  For more of Sarah, please check out www.saragroves.com.  You won't be disappointed.

And I just showed up for my own life
And I'm standing here taking it in and it sure looks bright

I'm going to live my life inspired
Look for the holy in the common place
Open the windows and feel all that's honest and real until I'm truly amazed
I'm going to feel all my emotions
I'm going to look you in the eyes
I'm going to listen and hear until it's finally clear and it changes our lives

Join me as I "look for the holy in the common place" ... you really can't miss it!